As Emerson, Lake & Palmer were making a comeback on-stage and on record (with Black Moon) in the early '90s, their former record label, Atlantic, launched a series of digitally remastered reissues of their catalog and packaged this two-CD collection. ELP best-of records abound, but this one remains the best. Anyone interested in the group but unwilling to buy each and every album gets all essential tracks on two 75-minute discs. Two-thirds of the trio's debut LP are included (yes, even an unedited "Take a Pebble"). The complete studio version of "Tarkus" represents the album by the same title. The "Excerpts From 'Pictures at an Exhibition'" correspond to side two of the original LP (minus "The Nutrocker"). Trilogy has been slightly neglected, with only "The Endless Enigma" (all three parts of it) and "From the Beginning" making the cut. The producers decided to drop such crucial material as the title track and the very popular "Hoedown" in order to include all but one track from the seminal 1973 Brain Salad Surgery ("Toccata" is there, but comes from the live album Welcome Back My Friends to the Show That Never Ends). The least of the worst was salvaged from the trio's late-'70s LPs, including the two group tracks from Works, Vol. 1 and "Canario," the most digestible piece from Love Beach. Considering Greg Lake's ballads and the honky tonk tunes have been largely set aside in favor of the longer, more compelling pieces, The Atlantic Years is a prog rock fan's dream collection.
AllMusic Review by François Couture
Track Listing - Disc 1
Track Listing - Disc 2